Interview with recent Kerry pro debutant Kevin Cronin

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I recently spoke to Milltown man and Kerry’s sole male pro boxer Kevin Cronin, in the aftermath of his debut in the paid ranks on March 30th in Dublin.

Q: How did you start in boxing? 

Kevin Cronin: Well, to be honest, I didn’t grow up starting boxing at a young age. I started quite late, at about 16 or 17, just to lose a bit of weight really. I put on a lot of weight, I went up to about 108kg. I met this coach out in Cashen Vale (boxing club in Ballybunion), Patrick O’Brien. I went into it to lose a bit of weight but I got attached to it.

Q. At what point did it get serious? How long were you training for before you had your first amateur fight?

KC: I was just training for the first 6 months to get a bit of weight down. I was training, still around 100kg, and a white collar show came up. I said I’d just box in it for the craic, I’m just here to lose a bit of weight really. My coach said it’ll be a bit of fun, just a minute and a half rounds. I said ‘I’ll do it’. Next thing, I did it, and I said, you know what, I might give it a go. I started competing a small bit.

From there it built on. I was walking around about 98kg., and I said I’ll take it a bit serious and I cut down to 91. Starting in 2017, I said I’d really take it seriously. I entered the novices, got on well though I didn’t win them out unfortunately. I went away, did a lot of training, a lot of sparring, came back and won the International Celtic Cup at 91kg. I moved up to intermediate, won the Munster title. I had a few injuries and bits, cut down to 81kg, and that’s when I met Leonard (Gunning). There were a lot of fights in between, but those were the main ones.

Q. So how many amateur fights did you have in total, do you think? Do you know the exact number?

KC: I had 25 amateur fights.

Q. What can you tell me about your amateur club?

KC: My amateur club, Cashen Vale, it’s a brilliant club. In my eyes, it’s the best club in the county, but that’s just speaking from coming out of there. It’s where I learnt my trade, I guess you’d say. Without them, I wouldn’t be here boxing.

Q. You got into boxing, as you said, at a pretty late age, but were you a fan growing up? Did you have any inspirations?

KC: I was always a fan of watching boxing but I was more of a person of if boxing was on, I’d sit down and watch it. I wouldn’t go planning to spend the night watching this fight [or that], but now, it’s an addiction.

Q. I know the feeling. Tell me how you met Leonard and decided to go pro.

KC: Me and Leonard were chatting from when I won the intermediate Munsters. We were just chatting over Facebook for a good while. Next thing, we didn’t talk for a while, I broke my hand and was out for a bit. I wanted to keep busy. I didn’t want to just fall off the wagon so I talked to my coach and said maybe we’ll cut a bit of weight when I’m out, and see if we make 81kg: light heavy. He said ‘no, we won’t’. But I just really wanted to do it and it’ll keep us busy for the next couple of months while I’m healing.

We did that. We came back over at the Haringey (Box Cup) and fought at 81. Leonard was actually over there watching it and that’s when we had the real chat with him after that. So I decided to sign.

Q. At what point in your amateur career did you decide to give it a go as a pro?

KC: When I won the Celtic Cup, I had more of a mind for boxing. I knew what I was doing. From then on, I knew I had more of a style for the pros. I was a lot better flat footed than bouncing around on my toes, scoring points like they do in the amateurs. I was always good for walking my opponents down and picking my shots, which I think will suit the pros very good.

Q. Do you have the same set-up for your pro career as your amateur? Has a lot changed?

KC: A lot has changed. I am no longer with my amateur coach. I’m with Jonathan Lewins in Dublin. I train with him at the weekend. I’m training then some days during the week in Tralee, just to keep me going until I get up to Jonathan. I get up to him as much as possible really. We’re getting the spars in, we’re getting the padwork in, we’re getting everything in. He’s definitely changed my mind for boxing. He’s making me hungrier. He’s making me love it more and more every session.

Q. Are you a full time boxer at the moment or do you do any work or study as well?

KC: I work in Tralee. I’m still working a full time job and training 2 or 3 times a day. I’m up in the morning, half 5 or 6 o’clock, into the gym training, doing my cardio or strength and conditioning. I do my boxing then straight away when work finishes. I go home, get a bit of dinner, hit the road to do a bit of running. If I’m not working or sleeping, I’m training.

Q. How do you find balancing the two? People often talk about how difficult it is when you’re not a full time pro, trying to have a social life as well.

KC: I guess it’s just how much you want it really. I don’t mind balancing the two because I love doing it. If you want it enough, you’ll make it work.

Q. Tell me about your pro debut. I know you were meant to have it a bit earlier than it panned out.

KC: I was meant to have it in November. Unfortunately, my license didn’t come through for it. But in fairness, the lads, they kept looking into dates, and then got me on Clash of the Titans. It was a bit later than predicted but couldn’t have went any better. Maybe it was for the best, to help me settle into the pro style a bit more before I got out there and did the job.

Q. Tell me about the debut, the night, getting to the venue. You’d obviously boxed at the National Stadium before as an amateur.

KC: It might have helped a bit but knowing now after coming out of the ring, it’s really a different sport to the amateurs, even making the weight. It was difficult enough making the weight, but we made it. Actually, we made light heavyweight so, our next outing, we’re going to go for super middleweight.

We made the weight and then I guess it was just about trying to stay chilled, stay calm over the next 3 or 4 hours. I had my strength and conditioning coach, Peter Donoghue, Peak Fitness in Tralee, he was with me the whole 24 hours and he kept me as chilled as possible, trying to keep all the nerves away. Once we got to the Stadium, that’s when the nerves started kicking in, started getting jittery. There’s no point in saying I wasn’t nervous, I was rattling in my boots. When we walked out, the music and everything, it was just adding more and more to the nerves. The minute I got in the ring, all the nerves went out the window and I knew I was there to do one job.

Q. How do you feel the fight went for you? I was there, I saw it live.

KC: I don’t think my debut could’ve went any better really. Maybe I could have boxed a bit better, gotten a bit more behind my boxing but it was my debut. I boxed, I won every round. I got four rounds in and I stopped him in the fourth. So what more could I ask for?

Q. When do you think you’ll get out for a second fight and what’s the plan in terms of activity?

KC: Hopefully mid summer, all going well. I know there’s talks of September, but I’m hoping myself to get out myself mid summer, hopefully before July.

Q. Is it just a case of seeing what the weight cut down to super middleweight is like and if that’s the weight class you’re going to settle in?

KC: If I’m ever going to do it, I want to do it now. I don’t want to wait until I’m ten fights in and say I should be at super middle. I want to do it now and see if it’s for me. If it’s not for me, we can build at light heavyweight. If it is for me, all the better, we can work at super middleweight from the very beginning.

Q. Everyone wants to be on a big show, main eventing, fighting on tv, all that sort of thing, and now TG4 are backing the Assassins Boxing/Boxing Ireland shows. Tell me what you think about that, as well as your general ambitions. I know it’s difficult given that you’ve just had your debut and are trying to cut down to a different weight but tell me what you’re thinking.

KC: I think TG4 getting behind them is absolutely brilliant. When was the last time boxing in Ireland was really televised or promoted?

Q. Ten years ago I guess.

KC: The Bernard Dunne era, you know. The talent out there is unreal. The goals, well the goal at the minute is to build experience. I don’t want to jump in saying I want to call out this fella for a title. I have no right to do that. I’m one fight in. I want to build as much experience as I can, take it as it comes, and after a couple of fights maybe put myself in line for a title. Hopefully get one down home in Kerry and finally get a pro show in Kerry, sell out some big arena.

Q. I remember I missed out on it because I only got into boxing myself in my late teens, but there was a boxing show at the Gleneagle Hotel, Killarney, in 2008. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something like that again?

KC: I never even knew there was a boxing show in Kerry.

Q. Mike Perez fought on it. [Note – this is the Boxrec entry for the show in question: http://boxrec.com/en/event/559668%5D

KC: I’m not going to say anything on it until I build up my wins, but that would be a goal for the next three years maybe, put myself in line for a title and then compete for it at the INEC. That would be a dream come true. For the next three years, that’s my goal.

 

 

 

 

Interview with Kerry pro Siobhán O’Leary

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I recently spoke to Kerry’s first female pro boxer Siobhan O’Leary, ahead of her second fight on March 30th in the National Stadium, which is to be televised live on TG4.

We spoke about her journey, balancing work and training, goals and what boxing means to her.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your start in boxing, seeing as it is a niche sport in a place like Kerry.

Siobhan O’Leary: I was 28 when I started. I was very late getting into it. I was on work placement and my supervisor there was a coach in an amateur club. He was doing a white collar thing. He asked me to do it and I said no the first few times. No way do I want to be punched in the head. It didn’t appeal to me at all. He convinced me and it was a 12 week program. Throughout that, I fell in love with it, the training at first, didn’t really like the sparring or anything like that, that came later when I joined the amateur club.

Q. Before I ask about your amateur career, had you watched any boxing growing up? 

SOL: I’m not going to say I was a proper fan of boxing, I wasn’t. I had seen boxing growing up. I remember watching Ricky Hatton, but my overarching memory of boxing would be the Olympics and Michael Carruth, things like that. It wasn’t until I started training and competing in the sport that I really got hooked.

Q. Tell us a little bit about your transition from white collar to amateur codes, and how many bouts did you have as an amateur?

SOL: I didn’t actually have that many fights as an amateur. I started in 2012, firstly at 67kg. I boxed for three seasons and then gave it up for two years, because I had to go to England to work. In late 2016, I came back and decided, right, I’m going to get back to boxing.

In my early amateur career, I won a couple of novice provincial championships, but I suppose it wasn’t until late 2016 and the following season that I really progressed and things just clicked. I moved down in weight. That’s something that I really feel was a catalyst in how I was progressing and developing as a boxer. For a long time, I was boxing at a weight that wasn’t my natural weight. I moved down to lightweight, 60kg, during the 2017 season.

It all culminated when I won the Celtic Box Cup, the Leicester Cup and a National Senior Title. It was a hell of a season. I realized then that boxing wasn’t something I was just going to do as a pastime.

Q: What was your amateur club when you won all these championships?

SOL: Corpus Christi in Limerick, in Moyross. I stayed there for my whole amateur career. It’s a great little club in the community. It really is a credit to Jeff and Declan out there. But obviously when the opportunity to turn pro came around, I didn’t make that decision lightly. I considered it for a long time. I felt, for myself, I had progressed as far as I wanted to as an amateur, considering my style of fighting.

I had a conversation with Graham McCormack, a friend of mine and pro boxer as well, and a conversation with Stephen Sharpe, my promoter. I suppose those conversations helped and then obviously I had a long talk with my partner and my family. I think turning pro when I did was the best decision for my boxing at that time.

Q: What do you think of pro training as opposed to the amateur code? How would you compare and contrast the two? And how did you end up in the Hyland gym?

SOL: Graham McCormack was training with Eddie Hyland in the Hyland Boxing Academy in Tallaght. I got the introduction through Graham and Stephen Sharpe. I spoke to Eddie about what I wanted to do as a boxer. Eddie and I have gelled as a trainer and an athlete. It’s been eye opening how much Eddie has brought me on. There’s a huge difference in how I carry myself in the ring, my style and my movement. A lot has changed over the past 6 months, changed for the better.

Q: How do you find balancing training with work?

SOL: It’s tough, Jeremy, I’m not going to lie. I work full time in social care in Limerick. It is a balancing act. I’m still trying to figure things out, trying to make sure I’m not overtraining and I’m fully there when I’m at work, that I’m fully there when I’m with family and friends.

I do travel to Dublin after work twice a week, it’s two hours up and an hour and a half down. I haven’t gotten into the car yet and thought ‘I don’t want to go’. That hasn’t happened. I am super motivated when I get into the car. I listen to an audio book and then I’m there. Once I’m there, it’s such a learning environment with Eddie, Graham, Carl and Jake. The team we have around us is phenomenal. We have Pajo and Paul at times as well. It’s really something that has brought me on as a boxer and an individual as well.

Q: To ask the obvious question, boxing as a woman, how do you find that? Katie obviously opened doors in Ireland, as far as awareness, and it’s now part of the Olympics. You also have the likes of Kellie Harrington and Christina McMahon. Where do you fit into that?

SOL: We have our forebearers, Deirdre Gogarthy, Christina McMahon, Lynn Harvey is boxing for an EBU title as well, and obviously we have a great team of amateurs in terms of females as well. Katie Taylor and Christina McMahon’s success has opened doors. Katie has really kicked down that door.

My part in that now is wherever that may lead. My goal right now is to get to 2-0 and we’ll progress from there. It’s an exciting scene at the moment. It’s really opening up. It’s mushrooming. Women’s boxing is getting out there, it’s being respected. A lot of that is to do with boxers like Cecilia Brækhus, Katie Taylor, Claressa Shields. Male or female, these are some of the best pound for pound boxers in the world.

There’s an equality in that, when you seem them get in the ring and they’re dismantling people. They’re very, very good athletes and very, very good boxers. When you have those role models, I’m humbled and grateful to be part of it, to be a little part of this story.

Q: It would have been unusual, just a few years ago, to see a women’s bout on a pro card on TV, but now it’s par for the course with the likes of Taylor on Sky, Shields and Brækhus on American TV. Where do you stand on two versus three minute rounds?

SOL: I would prefer to box three minute rounds. Especially as a power puncher, I think you have that extra minute to break your opponent down, hurt them and finish them. It can be tough to do that in two minutes because you do have to box at a higher pace. You do have to try to get your work done at a much quicker speed. At the moment, it’s two minutes so I’m going to work with what’s there at the moment. In the amateurs, it was 4×2, then 3×3, it’s always changing.

In my training, until the last three weeks of my camp, I’m training three minute rounds. Obviously in the last two or three weeks, I bring it down to two minutes to get the body used to that.

Q: Tell me how it felt making your pro debut and stepping into that stage for the first time. Also, how are you feeling about your second fight coming up and is there an opponent set yet?

SOL: I think there is an opponent but I don’t know who she is. She’s just another body to be honest. I don’t focus on my opponent. I focus on what I am in control over. I am in control of my own reactions to her. I’m not in control of who she is. I leave that to Stephen and Leonard Gunning to do the matchmaking.

My debut was amazing. It was one of the most spine-tingling, phenomenal experiences of my life. I can remember every single part of it very clearly. That’s not par for the course with me, I have a bit of a bad memory. Every single moment, from getting to the venue, to having my hands wrapped, to getting warmed up, to getting my gloves on — the little small, 8oz gloves, the first time I had them on. It was just a cool experience.

Just before I went down the stairs, Carl McDonald, my teammate, came over to me and asked “are you ok?”. I had tears in my eyes. I was a bit overwhelmed. He kind of grabbed my gloves, and I said “I’m fine”.

I went down the stairs and it was literally like a switch flicked. I was there, zoned in. Once we did the ring walk, all I looked at was my opponent. It was kill or be killed. That’s when the primal sense kicks in. I love getting in the ring and I love fighting, I really do. That’s what kicks in. Don’t get me wrong, my debut wasn’t any sort of display of skill or anything. I got a bit overexcited. I boxed to the crowd. I was sloppy. But I did the job and I stopped my opponent.

Right now I’m moving forward to number two. It is a different type of build up. It’s a lot calmer. There’s a lot less hype of course. I’ve definitely been working on different things in this camp. I’ve definitely had a different kind of mindset. I still feel excited. I still feel anxious. I still feel nervous but I’m 100% looking forward to getting in there, and, again, the most enjoyable part for me is fighting. After boxing for so long, and not really enjoying it at the start, now getting in there and testing my skill is the most enjoyable part. For me, you kind of tap into your primal being and it is a ruthlessness that you have to tap into. I enjoy that.

Q: You didn’t know you had that before you took up boxing?

SOL: I don’t know. I didn’t really have the need to tap into something like that. Lots of people ask me why I box. Part of it is because I love the training. I love pushing my body to the limit. I love achieving new things, setting goals and smashing them. But I also love getting in there to have a fight. I love the one v one aspect of it. You’re bending someone to your will. You’re stopping that person from beating you. It’s a victory thing as well.

Q. I guess the last thing I want to ask is, you have already touched on your focus being on fight to fight, but is there anything else you can say generally with regards to your ambitions for your pro career?

SOL: My ambition is to keep winning. I leave the planning and the pathway to Stephen and Leonard. I trust them implicitly. They’re really good to me. My job is to box and my job is to win. That’s what I’m focused on. I tend not to look off in the future. I tend not to try to make big plans. I set a goal, I set a target. I reach it, I smash it, I move forward.

Siobhan fights on Saturday March 30th as part of the Clash of the Titans show from Assassins Boxing and Boxing Ireland Promotions, televised on TG4, beginning at 8:30pm.

 

 

 

Pound4poundireland’s 2018 Fight, Knockout, Round, Prospect, Upset and Trainer of the Year

Fight of the Year

1. Alex Saucedo-Lenny Zappavigna

2. Dereck Chisora-Carlos Takam

3. Vasyl Lomachenko-Jorge Linares

Knockout of the Year

1. Alvin Lagumbay ko2 Keita Obara

2.  Teofimo Lopez ko1 Mason Menard

3. Harlem Eubank ko2 Petar Alexandrov

Round of the Year

1. Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury Round 12

2. Dillian Whyte-Joseph Parker Round 12

3. Alex Saucedo-Lenny Zappavigna Round 4

Prospect of the Year

1. Teofimo Lopez

2. Joshua Buatsi

3. Devin Haney

Upset of the Year

1. Roberto Ramirez ko2 Dejan Zlaticanin

2. Rob Brant UD12 Ryota Murata

3. Tony Harrison UD12 Jermell Charlo

Trainer of the Year

Anatoly Lomachenko – for his work with Oleksandr Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko

Fights to look forward to in 2019?

  1. Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder/Tyson Fury

Joshua-Wilder, the most tiresome ‘will they/won’t they’ saga since Mayweather-Pacquiao, had better come to an end this year.

Will it, though? I’m not terribly optimistic, partially because Tyson Fury may well complete the job he was robbed of if that rematch does indeed happen next.

I think Joshua-Fury would be even more compelling as far as an evenly matched contest goes, so either one will do.

2. Anthony Joshua-Oleksandr Usyk

The likes of Joshua-Miller or Joshua-Whyte II, while not bad fights in a vacuum, hold little interest for me.

The only truly acceptable substitute on Joshua’s side for the unifications we all want would be a clash with cruiser king and fighter of the year for 2018, Oleksandr Usyk. I’d be fascinated to see if Usyk could negate Joshua’s massive size advantage with his fluid, fleet-footed skills.

3. Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder II

This one is obvious, and is probably the next best thing to Joshua versus either man. Their classic 12th round and controversial scorecards leave ample room for closure.

4. Oleksandr Gvozdyk-Eleider Alvarez

If Alvarez repeats his win over Kovalev, this is the fight that makes sense for the second half of 2019, especially given that they are now both under the Top Rank banner.

5. Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin III

After two memorable, controversy-laden fights, a third bout is still needed in my eyes to settle this rivalry. If network free agent Golovkin doesn’t sign with DAZN, however, that could mean it never materializes.

6. Errol Spence-Keith Thurman

Thurman has drawn near-universal ire for declaring he’s still the best welterweight in the world in 2019 but that this year will be a “get back” exercise, and he has no intention of fighting Spence anytime soon.

We will see. In a common sense world, it would be the logical next step after Thurman’s tune-up and Spence thrashing an undersized Mikey Garcia.

7. Amir Khan-Kell Brook

Does anyone really prefer to see the mooted Terence Crawford vs. Khan fight over this one?

This fight is worth twice the money of a sure fire beating at the hands of Crawford and Brook has agreed to welterweight and a rehydration clause.

Please let cooler heads prevail and end the decade long foreplay for this domestic grudge match. Who cares if both guys are now faded, it might actually make for a better fight.

8. Regis Prograis-Josh Taylor

The most likely final of the 140lb. WBSS (rumoured money problems in the tournament aside), this would be a mouthwatering clash between two young, world class talents in their primes.

9. Tevin Farmer-Gervonta Davis

Too much social media bullshit, too little action.

Farmer has impressed lately, albeit against limited opposition. Davis has been inactive, gotten fat and will next be stepping on a faded Abner Mares.

Promotional differences may prevent this matchup, given that Leonard Ellerbe says he will never allow Davis to fight on “Dead Zone”.

10. Oscar Valdez-Josh Warrington

Warrington opened a lot of eyes in 2018 with a breakout year. Valdez returns from a broken jaw with an easy comeback fight early in 2019, but a unification between these two would be a can’t miss action fight.

11. Naoya Inoue-Zolani Tete

The most likely final of the 118lb. WBSS would be a purists dream.

Inoue continues to excel in his third weight class, but Tete would be seeking to prove that his slick skills, long consigned to the ‘who needs him’ fringes of the big stage, can hang with one of the pound for pound best.

 

Pound4poundireland’s 2018 Fighter of the Year

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Fighter of the Year

1. Oleksandr Usyk

2. Josh Warrington

3. Vasyl Lomachenko

It was a slam dunk choice this year.

Oleksandr Usyk fulfilled every ounce of his vast potential in 2018: unifying belts by beating Mairis Breidis in his back yard in a thriller, becoming undisputed champion by dominating Murat Gassiev in Russia in the World Boxing Super Series final, and, finally, knocking out Tony Bellew away from home in a final title defence.

He is the modern day road warrior, a worthy heir to Evander Holyfield at cruiserweight, and the boxing world waits to see if he can replicate the Real Deal’s heavyweight exploits, starting next year.

Warrington claims second place on the strength of two upset wins against longtime rival Lee Selby, and then Carl Frampton, to improbably establish himself among the featherweight elite.

Usyk’s friend and stablemate Lomachenko continues his ascent in weight to have another impressive year, knocking out Jorge Linares in a back and forth technical masterclass to win a belt at 135, then unifying post surgery by defeating Jose Pedraza.

Pound4poundireland’s 2017 Fighter of the Year

Rungvisai Gonzalez Boxing

Fighter of the Year

1. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai

2. Vasyl Lomachenko

3. Mikey Garcia

Mikey Garcia reminded everyone of his talent this year, continuing his comeback from a long layoff to first destroy titlist Dejan Zlaticanin at lightweight in a KO of the year candidate, then dominate Adrien Broner at 140.

“No Mas-chenko” was coined in boxing lore thanks to consecutive schoolings in 2017 of Jason Sosa, Miguel Marriaga and (the admittedly much smaller) Guillermo Rigondeaux, all of which resulted in corner retirements, cementing Vasyl Lomachenko near the top of everyone’s estimations of boxing’s top fighter.

Wouldn’t it be great to see Lomachenko-Garcia in 2018? A shame that promotional differences, maybe size too, will keep them apart, at least for now.

The outstanding fighter of 2017 to my eyes was the formerly unheralded Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

Prior to 2017, the Thai, birth name Wisaksil Wangek, a former kickboxer of over 50 professional fights, was most known for a brief 115lb. title run that ended in a cut-shortened defeat to Carlos Cuadras in 2014.

But, having not faced a fighter with a decent record in two years, he fought a savage war with consensus pound for pound #1 and undefeated lower weight legend Roman Gonzalez, coming out with a hotly debated decision win, one which I felt he had earned.

All debate was quenched in the immediate rematch 6 months later, when Rungvisai stepped it up yet another gear and flattened Gonzalez brutally in the fourth round.

He’s earned his place among boxing’s elite, will have a chance to further his case against another lower weight darling when he takes on Juan Francisco Estrada next month, and is the Pound4poundireland Fighter of the Year for 2017.

 

Fights to look forward to in 2018?

Note: I’ve kept this list to bouts that can realistically happen next year, hence why you won’t see any fights like Burnett-Tete or Kovalev-Beterbiev on this list that are likely prevented by promotional/TV differences etc.

1. Tyson Fury- Anthony Joshua

Now that Fury’s UKAD situation has finally been sorted out, he can end his two year plus layoff and this long-discussed fight can approach becoming a reality.

It’s probably a long shot for 2018, but here’s hoping.

2. Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder

More likely in the immediate future is AJ vs. Wilder for all of the sanctioning body marbles, arguably the most exciting fight that can be made in boxing.

3. Oleksandr Usyk-Murat Gassiev/Yunier Dorticos

As long as Usyk beats Mairis Breidis in his World Boxing Super Series semi, this fight should happen in the final to determine ultimate cruiserweight supremacy.

4. Sergey Kovalev-Dmitry Bivol

Bivol recently signed with Main Events and if Kovalev is really on the wane, perhaps a win in a fight like this could be what launches Bivol to stardom at the expense of his promotional stablemate.

5. George Groves/Chris Eubank Jr.-Callum Smith

Groves-Eubank in February is already as good as it gets in terms of matchmaking, but an expected showdown between the winner and Callum Smith in the WBSS final comes close to as mouthwatering.

6. Gennady Golovkin-Saul Alvarez II

This is a rematch that probably wouldn’t have been necessary if the judges had gotten things right the first time, but it’s still a fight that will be hugely anticipated.

With Canelo in his prime as both a boxer and darling of the judges, and Golovkin looking like he’s slowed down, maybe this will be the Mexican’s crowning glory.

7. Gennady Golovkin/Saul Alvarez-Billy Joe Saunders

The winner will have to face slick and underrated Billy Joe Saunders for undisputed 160lb. supremacy, however, and let’s hope that happens by this time next year.

8. Keith Thurman-Errol Spence

This is the obvious fight to be made at 147 (at least until Terence Crawford establishes himself at the new weight), but whether it will happen or not is a different question.

Thurman has expressed reluctance, expressing his preference to push it back until 2019 and admitting he’s lost some of his hunger for boxing.

9. Lee Selby-Carl Frampton

If Selby schools Josh Warrington as expected and Frampton overcomes a potentially dangerous fight with Nonito Donaire, this is the final destination that would make most sense.

They have the same promoter, Frampton wants another world title shot and Selby is looking for his defining fights after a few years in the wilderness.

10. Naoya Inoue-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai/Juan Francisco Estrada

It’s a shame that Inoue will possibly not stick around at 115lbs. long enough to meet the winner of the excellent upcoming SSR-Estrada fight, but why not just make it for 118 instead?

Pound4poundireland’s 2017 Fight, Knockout, Round, Prospect, Upset and Trainer of the Year

Fight of the Year

1. Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko

2. Dominic Breazeale-Izuagbe Ugonoh

3. Orlando Salido-Miguel Roman

Knockout of the Year

1.  Zolani Tete ko1 Sibonsino Gonya

https://pound4poundireland.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/full-fight-video-zolani-tete-vs-sibonsino-gonya-fastest-world-title-ko-in-history/

2. Jermell Charlo ko1 Erickson Lubin

3. Carlos Daniel Cordoba ko6 Martin Ariel Ruiz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0ti_zenlbU (@ 5:45)

Round of the Year

1. Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko Round 5

2. Roarke Knapp-John Bopape Round 3

3. Dominic Breazeale-Izuagbe Ugonoh Round 3

Prospect of the Year

1. Josh Kelly

2. Jaime Munguia

3. Vergil Ortiz Jr.

Upset of the Year

1. Caleb Truax MD12 James DeGale

2. Jeff Horn UD12 Manny Pacquiao

3. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai MD12 Roman Gonzalez

 

Trainer of the Year

Derrick James – for his work with Jermell Charlo and Errol Spence

Pound4poundireland’s 2016 Fighter, Fight, Knockout, Round, Prospect, Upset and Trainer of the Year

Fighter of the Year

1. Carl Frampton

carl-frampton

2. Andre Ward

3. Vasyl Lomachenko

Fight of the Year

1. Francisco Vargas-Orlando Salido

2. Jamie Conlan-Anthony Nelson

https://pound4poundireland.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/full-fight-video-anthony-nelson-vs-jamie-conlan-fight-of-the-year-candidate/

3. Leo Santa Cruz-Carl Frampton

https://ok.ru/videoembed/93337488021

Knockout of the Year

1.  Hassan N’Dam ko1 Alfonso Blanco

2. Deontay Wilder ko9 Artur Szpilka

3. Murat Gassiev ko1 Jordan Shimmel

Round of the Year

1. Yoshihiro Kamegai-Jesus Soto Karass I Round 10

2. Jamie Conlan-Anthony Nelson Round 5

3. Edwin Rodriguez-Thomas Williams Jr. Round 2

Prospect of the Year

1. Jarrett Hurd

2. Jason Quigley

3. Hughie Fury

Upset of the Year

1. Joe Smith Jr. ko1 Andrzej Fonfara

2. Jezreel Corrales ko2 Takashi Uchiyama

3. Julius Indongo ko1 Eduard Troyanovsky

Trainer of the Year

Shane McGuigan – mainly for his work with Carl Frampton, but also George Groves

Fights to look forward to in 2017?

Note: I’ve kept this list to bouts that can realistically happen next year, hence why you won’t see any fights like Thurman-Bradley or Santa Cruz-Lomachenko on this list that are likely prevented by promotional/TV differences.

1.Tyson Fury- Anthony Joshua

If AJ can emulate Fury by beating Klitschko, and Fury can overcome his myriad mental health and drug issues, this is the most meaningful and, possibly, the biggest money fight in heavyweight boxing.

2. Anthony Joshua-David Haye

I say “possibly”, because boxing’s ultimate conman, David Haye is looking for his cashout fight & remains a bigger name than Fury.

3. Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev II

After a highly skilled first meeting that ended with the most debated decision of recent years, the only way to definitively settle matters would seem to be an immediate rematch, which happens to be in the contract from the first bout.

But there’s often a way out of rematch clauses…

4. James DeGale/Badou Jack-Callum Smith

DeGale-Jack is the first treat of the 2017 boxing year, and the imposing figure of Callum Smith looms as mandatory for the winner.

DeGale-Smith would be big in the UK, but, whomever wins out between DeGale & Jack, it’s mouthwatering.

5. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin

In 2016, Gennady said “give me my belt”, and Canelo did.

Last year, I expressed optimism that Canelo would fearlessly face this challenge. That’s gone out the window and reputational damage has accrued. It’s a lot of agonizing to do over a fight that probably won’t be that competitive in the ring.

Still, we all want it, and a helluva lot more than proposed Canelo-Lemieux or, god help us, Canelo-Chavez Jr. bouts.

6. Kell Brook-Amir Khan

This fight, talked about for so many years, appears to be in serious negotiations for the first time. A ton of pride and each man’s legacy would be at stake. Surely it must happen eventually, why not 2017?

7. Manny Pacquiao-Terence Crawford

Freddie Roach hasn’t sounded too enthused about Pacman taking this fight, but one can speculate Bob Arum would be interested in a little of the great Filipino’s star power rubbing off on perhaps the USA’s best current fighter.

Pacquiao proved he can still go in 2016 and Crawford will be at welterweight sooner rather than later.

8. Ricky Burns-Adrien Broner

This oft-mooted bout has been discussed again as of late, and, while it would mean a lot less now due to each man’s wavering fortunes, it’d still be a lot of fun.

9. Orlando Salido-Vasyl Lomachenko II

It’s a fact that the great Lomachenko was beaten by a taxi driver. Let that sink in…

Salido recently outed himself as an Uber driver in his spare time, and, while the negotiations for this one have recently gone cold, I certainly want to see Lomachenko try to avenge the blot on his pro record before moving further up in weight and people’s pound for pound lists.

10. Roman Gonzalez-Naoya Inoue

Now that we’ve seen Ward-Kovalev, this is my pick for the best fight that can be made in boxing.

2 undefeated, p4p-rated, knockout punchers in their prime — ignore the weight if that sort of thing distracts you, this is a fight fan’s dream.